The fast-growing fintech sector has transformed the way financial services cater to consumers and business alike. Howard Schultz, the CEO of Starbucks, once said “success is best when it’s shared” – and the success of fintechs has been driven by and will continue to be powered by strong partnerships between fintechs and banks. In this article, we will share opportunities for partnerships between payment-focused fintechs1 and banks to navigate the upcoming dynamic environment.

2022: An inflection point for fintechs

With billions confined to their homes for work, leisure and everyday life, the pandemic accelerated e-commerce and digital experiences. The past two years presented an enormous opportunity for fintechs through high demand and plentiful funding, and it still remains the industry with most investment2

Recently the investment landscape has softened. According to a report by Pitchbook, venture capital investment has seen a percentage drop of 17.8% from the previous quarter, the largest percentage drop since Q3 20183

Competition for new payment methods is not just a fintech priority, a growing number of businesses are looking to create separate payments entities, with the aim of providing a service to the wider market and generating additional revenues. In essence, many major corporates are becoming fintechs themselves, and as new players flood the market there is an increasingly crowded landscape. 

Solidifying foundations: Optimizing efficiency through digitalization

Fintechs need to balance gaining market share with being profitable, some for the first time. One of the ways they are doing this is by optimizing their operations through digitalization.

Digitalization is not the first thing that comes to mind for fintechs, as highly digital solutions have been the cornerstone to their success. But many still use manual processes for back-end functions like liquidity management, and now they are focusing on digitalizing end to end. Upgrading back-end tech is costly, but this is where banks can offer automation.

They are increasingly looking to their banking partners to build bespoke solutions, so they can differentiate themselves from other companies that have very similar business models.

Digital as a culture, in new markets and old

In regions where fintechs are well integrated into everyday life – think major APAC urban areas, or North America and Western Europe – instant consumer and B2B payments is the norm for individuals. Fintechs have been successful in offering hyper-personalized localized solutions and are now looking to scale globally, gaining access to the customer base of new markets.

Latin America is a region still dominated by traditional banks. Fintech disruptors are emerging rapidly in this exciting growth market, but they must take the time and make the effort to win the trust of new customers. An important part of this is the on-boarding process; fintechs need to make this as smooth and user-friendly as possible while also including iron-clad security and digital identity. The key will be leveraging technology such as blockchain and artificial intelligence (AI), while maximizing some of their areas of strength such as collection and use of data. 

To help hone and streamline operations, fintechs are seeking banking partnerships that allow them to leverage the power and stability of the banking platforms, channels, and in-country rails.

Trust and inclusion: how fintechs can foster payments with a purpose

Fintechs are strong at delivering value to both consumer and corporate customers and crucially, marketing it – making some fintech brands household names. But for new users, trusting fintechs with their money, salary and payments is a big ask. 

Providing consumers and businesses with the ability to make contactless or QR payments; offering on-the-go digital wallets and banking; and enabling low-cost cross-border transacting… these are all services which fintechs do very well. In turn, APIs and open banking, now well established in EMEA, are spreading quickly around the globe thanks to innovative fintech offerings.

One of the next challenges is demonstrating and selling that value to the unbanked or the underbanked community. Take APAC – home to 60% of the world's population – about 4.6 billion people. There is a huge contingent which is unbanked – and there is also a significant contingent of consumers and small businesses alike which is underbanked. Fintechs and banks have an important role to play in financial inclusion. Whether that role includes technology advanced by fintechs or payments rails developed by banks, together they can create more equitable, diverse financial access for billions of people. 

It’s an exciting, fast-evolving time to be working in fintech. As the market grows, players are being tasked with setting themselves apart from the competition. By being highly attuned to the markets they are operating in, delivering excellent digital security, creating streamlined, watertight working capital structures, and by collaborating with the right people and partners, fintechs can set themselves up for the best chance of success.

J.P. Morgan’s expertise is built on years of experience supporting fintechs with innovative payment technology and strategies. Explore more insights from our FastForward series

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By ‘Payments-focused fintechs’ we mean the segment of fintechs whose core services cover B2B payments; wallets; payment processors & acquirers; and cross-border remittance services providers focused on Retail, Corporate & FI customers

The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of J.P. Morgan, its affiliates, or its employees. The information set forth herein has been obtained or derived from sources believed to be reliable. Neither the author nor J.P. Morgan makes any representations or warranties as to the information’s accuracy or completeness. The information contained herein has been provided solely for informational purposes and does not constitute an offer, solicitation, advice or recommendation, to make any investment decisions or purchase any financial instruments, and may not be construed as such.

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